Ratcliffe Bridge to Penny Street Bridge, Lancaster
No lying in bed with a cuppa this morning as Gary from All Seasons Covers was due with us early. He turned up a little after 8am with our covers over his shoulder. Then came the pram cover frame. Ray had been called away to a job in Liverpool so Gary was on his own to start with.
He started fitting the pram cover first, frame then the top panel. More fixing points were needed which were riveted into the cabin roof and rear doors. Once this was looking good he then started to add the sides. A fixing to the top panel needed moving slightly and then press studs were added to hold it to the cabin sides. The bottom edge of the cover just about lines up with the red grab rail and therefore our C&RT number is still visible. With all the port side fixed he moved onto the cratch cover.
Yesterday we’d moored bang opposite the water point here, so instead of Gary having to balance on the gunnel to add all the fixings to the starboard side we pushed Oleanna across so that he could stand on terra ferma for the drilling. Mick had already moved into the pram cover by this point. As soon as the cratch was fully fitted we topped up the water tank, with a load of washing on. Just as Gary was about to finish Ray arrived on the towpath. He was the only one who would have managed to get a photo of the whole of Oleanna with her new covers, sadly I didn’t. Once the last fixings were in position we pushed back to the towpath.
We have now lived without covers since April. In wet weather we’ve missed the extra protection that you get and somewhere to drip dry your clothes. But we’ve also now got used to not having covers. Oleanna’s cratch board is lower than Lillian’s so a stoop is all you can manage in there. Currently the flaps that roll up hang quite low when rolled up , this along with the bow lockers being quite high makes the opening quite small. We may see if the straps can be shortened and the press stud moved upwards which would give us another four to six inches. But we’ll live with them until we are back near Leigh and see what we think.
Closing them up will take a bit of getting used to. Dropping the pram hood we decided to remove the sides. These can then sit on the rear hatch before we folded down the frame. At the moment our internet aerial gets in the way of the frame folding flat onto the hatch. When sitting on the back it restricts your view towards the bow somewhat. So I had a go at removing the aerial and this improved it, but we may have to move the bracket that it is fixed on as the frame also catches this. However this will leave a hole at the back of the electrics cupboard and will need self tapping screws, so we may get someone to do this for us.
Having said all this, with all the covers up she looks very smart and we are very pleased, so is Oleanna.
After an early lunch we set off to catch Blackbird up at Galgate. As soon as we were under the first bridge our surroundings seemed to have a park like feel to them, slightly more grand than had been before. Were we suddenly surrounded by large grand houses? The canal meandered its way through lush grass and into a wooded cutting before we arrived at the junction with the Glasson Branch. Yesterday we’d decided to leave the branch and the smokehouse at the end for our way back south as a bit of a treat. Just at the next bend we could see Bridget, Storm and Max sat on the back of Blackbird, really hope Max hadn’t been sat there since yesterday waiting for us!
They had their pram cover down and sprang into action as we leap frogged them, the two boats now reunited and heading on towards Lancaster. We passed Galgate Marina where a quick photo of the diesel pump suggested that it is 98p a litre, I think we may be walking to the garage in Garstang where it is reported to be around 60p.
The next stretch was open countryside again and along the towpath every now and again there would be a picnic bench and a gap in growth, maybe here would be a good place to stop for a barbecue on our way back, should we ever have an evening suitable. Then we were back into another cutting, over hung by large mature trees, the bridges taller and less hump backed.
The approach into Lancaster with it’s view of the castle in the distance and some rather lovely double fronted terraced houses was a bit of a surprise. There is plenty of mooring as we approached the town centre, but only one gap showed itself and this was about six foot too short for us, Blackbird also tried and they were too long too. Everyone was obviously in Lancaster including two of the boats we’d done the crossing with. We carried on under a few more bridges and managed to pull into(ish) the side just before a stretch of mooring rings. I say before as along the stretch there was plenty of growth, buddleia and even small trees , so instead we hammered pins in and left ourselves with a bit of a stretch to get on and off.
A walk around later on and we found much to keep us busy tomorrow when it is meant to be raining for much of the day. A couple of pints at The Sun before before we returned to carefully negotiated our way back on board around our new covers.
0 locks, 8.3 miles, 2 new covers, 2 big pushes, £20 pocket money, 1 straight on, 2 boats reunited, 98p! 2 small for us and them, 1 bakers, 1 butchers, 1 crafty centre, 8 pints all round, 1 green box full of poison, 5 minutes of shore leave curtailed.